Leeds United manager Daniel Farke would have been both exasperated and thrilled with his side’s performance against his former club Norwich City on Saturday.

It was a game of two halves that showcased the worst and best of this evolving Leeds United side.

The first half was instantly forgettable; sloppy defending at one end and profligacy at the other.

The second half was a compelling lesson in seizing an opportunity as well as a window into the team’s temperament.

Not the best start

Leeds United supporters feared the worst at the end of the first half. After all, fixtures immediately after the international break can be quite tricky to navigate. The international hiatus is a notorious disruptor of club form and momentum.

At 2-0 down Leeds United were staring down the barrel.

Farke’s men had committed two cardinal sins; conceded very early in the match and then again shortly before the interval, leaving themselves with the proverbial mountain to climb in the second half.

Goals from Shane Duffy and Gabriel Sara had the Canaries chirping with confidence and Leeds United looking suitably beaten, but not disemboweled because they carved up plenty of goal-scoring opportunities in the first half.

Surely there was no way back for the visitors against one of the better teams in the division?

The Summerville show

With about half an hour to play and a two-goal deficit, Leeds United were facing a stern test of both their character and promotion credentials. A defeat at Carrow Road would have given traction to the suspicion that Leeds United are something of a yo-yo team; their wins regularly interspersed with losses and draws. It’s not the kind of temperament associated with promotion contenders. Genuine title challengers put together decent sequences of results.

When the luckless Duffy contrived to put one into his own net, halving  the deficit, Leeds United grabbed the lifeline with both hands.

Crysencio Summerville then leveled the score before applying the coup de grace to complete a memorable comeback, securing all three precious points and sending a message to rivals that Leeds United will have a say in the destiny of the promotion race.

The bigger picture

Farke will be delighted with the way his charges blew away international break cobwebs, snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and made it three wins on the bounce.

It has been the perfect response to the chastening 3-1 defeat by fellow Premier League dropouts Southampton at the end of September.

It’s early days, but Leeds United will feel that they have now firmly inserted themselves into the promotion squabble. After an indifferent start to the season a place in the automatic promotion spots by Christmas would be a bonus.

Although the Norwich victory put the Whites in second-placed Ipswich’s slipstream, the main focus now should be on consolidating their place in the play-off spots and staying within striking distance of the teams in the automatic promotion spots.

Looking ahead

The win over Norwich City will count for nothing if Leeds United can’t build on it. It must serve as the catalyst for a real promotion push.

As he plots his team’s path back to the Promised Land, Farke will know the importance of the next two fixtures – Wednesday’s trip to Stoke City followed by the home tie against Huddersfield three days later.

If Leeds United can get a maximum haul from those two games, that would set them up nicely for the mouthwatering trip to Leicester City at the start of November for what will be a mutual test of the two rivals’ promotion claims.

One match at a time. So on to the next one.

Leeds United, how do I love thee!


I'm Barrie Jarrett, born in Leeds, lived over a decade in South Africa, CEO And Co Founder of Planet Sport Limited and Planet Bet Limited.

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